Sad Day for Coaches

By Amsinger - March 27, 2006

George Mason beating UConn in the Elite Eight is the worst thing EVER for college basketball coaches. Which is funny considering it's also the greatest thing to have ever happened to the sport. Ask any coach - any single one and they'll tell you this, "it doesn't make my job any easier."

Head coaches sitting around because they're out of the tournament wanted to see #1-seed UConn face #1-seed Villanova and #1-seed Duke versus...#2-seed UCLA. Memphis and Gonzaga would still make them look bad considering the conference they call home. At the end of the day, coaches do not want to see other guys in their profession make it look easy.

Coach Jim Larranaga made it look easy.

How in the world did this guy come up with a game plan for teams like Michigan State, North Carolina, Wichita State and UConn when he couldn't beat Hofstra, Creighton, Old Dominion, Mississippi State and UNC Wilmington? I'm not going to name names, but trust me...coaches around the nation hate this.

No matter if you're coaching Iowa or Northern Iowa, Missouri or Missouri State, Duke or Drexel, Kentucky or Kent State - George Mason making it to the Final Four turns the heat up for all coaches. Major or Mid-major.

Let me help explain the predicament.

Imagine for a moment, you work at CSTV. Even more specific, imagine you work as a sports anchor/host at CSTV and one day you get a bad case of the pukes and can't go on air. CSTV is in a bind and asks a 20-year-old college student off the street to come in and not just do a good job - but be "Emmy-good", which is better than you are at the moment, pukes and all. That 20 year-old walks in off the street and is so good Bob Costas feels threatened while watching from the anchor desk at NBC! The youngster becomes an instant star and since he doesn't have an agent and is basically clueless to all the attention he's about to receive, he signs a contract for $20,000/year because it's a helluva lot more than he's making right now.

What would that do to me - uh, I mean YOU...since you're imagining you work at CSTV.

The analogy may hit too close to home, but that's how big-time college basketball coaches feel right now. They're not "happy" for Jim Larranaga, they're frustrated with his luck.

I find the word "luck" funny actually. How do you beat players like Paul Davis, Maurice Ager, Shannon Brown (all three from Michigan State), Tyler Hansbrough, David Noel (UNC), Paul Miller (Wichita State), UConn's Rudy Gay, Josh Boone, Hilton Armstrong, Denham Brown, Rashad Anderson and Marcus Williams with players like Jai Lewis, Tony Skinn, Will Thomas and Folarin Campbell?

Throw the word "luck" out the window.

George Mason's success reminds me of a conversation I had with CBS Sports' Dick Enberg. Four years ago I asked Dick, who did play-by-play for the 1979 National Championship game between Michigan State and mid-major Indiana State, if we'd ever see another "true" mid-major in the title game. Dick replied, "Yes. There will be a day when a group of players find a way to ride the pure emotion of this great sport into the championship contest. With so many blue-chip superstars already flirting with the NBA at a young age, a team playing for the love of college basketball will shock the world and win it all."

It sounded too good to be true.

Well, in a way - George Mason is too good to be true.

For every other college basketball coach, "too good" is a bad thing. Which is too bad, if you ask me.

Posted by Amsinger at 05:21 PM on March 27, 2006

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